Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Halo: Reach multiplayer beta (preview)

Originally posted on Digital Gaudium (May 8, 2010)

Bungie, developers of the acclaimed Halo video game series released a multiplayer testing build of their final franchise-based game “Halo: Reach” to the public with high anticipation before the retail release this fall.

Officially released on Monday, people who own a copy of “Halo 3: ODST” and have a membership to the Xbox Live, can download the beta. The download provides a small taste of the multiplayer mode that will be featured in the final build.

After a short introduction message from Bungie, players can pick one of the two modes available.

Matchmaking mode allows online players to combat one another in multiple playlists featuring game types common in Halo like “capture the flag” and the deathmatch-based “Slayer” while some new are introduced in Reach. “Headhunter” requires players to grab skulls from fallen enemies and deposit them at specific capture areas for points while “Stockpile” is a variant of capture the flag where teams must store neutral flags in their own bases.

Throughout the beta, Bungie will add more game types for players to play and test. “Generator Defense” has a small team of Spartans have to defend multiple machines from a rag-tag group of invading Elites. The other, “Invasion,” is the large scale mode featured in the beta where Elites must complete a set of objectives while going through Spartan defenses; this mode also has a Slayer only variant.

Introduced in “Halo 3,” “Theater” mode allows players to watch footage of their played games as well as take screenshots.

So far, the Halo: Reach beta looks, sounds and plays like any other Halo game but like the series’ previous incarnations, new features and other nuances makes this distinct from the others.

The most apparent addition is armor abilities where each player can pick one of the four provided. These abilities replace the equipment system in Halo 3 where it was one use as opposed to Reach being reusable. Each ability serve different purposes best for particular situations. Active camouflage increases the chances of assassinating enemies without being seen while the jetpack allows temporary air superiority against ground forces.

Weapons have gone towards another overhaul in Reach featuring new additions as well as removing some common in the series. Similar to the original Halo and Halo 3: ODST, dual-wielding is not featured in Reach. In return for balance, weapons like the magnum pistol have more power into it just in case if ammo for a primary weapon runs out; those single handed weapons serve as more of a sidearm.

The popular battle rifle has been removed as well for another called the DMR, short for Designated Marksman Rifle. Instead of a three-round burst, the DMR can only provide single shot fire generally preferred for mid to long range combat; making it closer to the battle rifle’s original envision during Halo 2. It’s not easy to handle though because the DMR along with almost every other weapon in Reach has accuracy and the faster each firearm is shot, the less accurate it will become. The DMR and many other new weapons are featured in Reach for all of us to play with.

Although Bungie wants everyone to enjoy this small bit of the beta, they want players to discover and report any issues or bugs; which in this phase is normally suited for private testing. Bungie is eager for every players’ opinion if such things as the focus rifle being overpowered or someone found a way to get under the battlefield ever occurs.

There are some particular issues in the beta but with over a million participants, all the feedback up until closing day on May 17, 2010 will allow Bungie to fine tune and help create the best possible experience in Halo: Reach when it comes out fall 2010.